Faith and Feminism

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My opinions always tend to draw attention to myself. So much so, that I created a career out of avoiding spaces and conversations that end in grandiose declarations of my opinions. But all that was about to change.

For the last year my friend had been inviting me to a Bible study. And as fate would have it, one day I said yes.

“Girl I’m so glad you’re coming!” Lily said as she drove to church. “The class today I’m teaching is called ‘A Woman’s Place’ and we’re just gonna go through the Bible verse by verse and see where things take us from a Biblical Perspective.”

Biblical perspective... To me that meant where women are property and silent in the church.

Walking into the room, I tried to blend in. Other than my RBF it was more or less working. Until…. 

“Can you read Genesis 2:18?”  

And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him

Lily leaned forward and smiled to the 7 or so young adults. “So what does this mean? Let’s define help meet!” While she dove into the meaning of Ezer a young woman named Katherine raised her hand.

“I think being a helper is a joy.” Katherine smiled. “A lot of times we don’t realize the full influence and power we can have as wives on our husbands.” She then referenced a statistic that men who are married are better leaders in business because of the moral compass and influence of a good wife at home.

I raised my hand. “I actually think we can take that a step further,” I say, using the 2% of charm that existed in my body. “Our voices and skills and opinions as women are actually vitally needed in all of society including corporate spaces.”

Great. I said my part and managed not to make enemies. Next the bible study moved on to the fall of man. Katherine raised her hand again. “The problem with society today is that women are trying to be more than they are.” The person sitting next to her folded her arms and looked sideways. Katherine continued “Eve, and really all women, fall into sin when we break from our role and satisfy our curiosity of being more than we are. I’m happy being a woman and doing girly things. I love being cute and cooking and doing my hair and nails. I’m happy being a helper to my man. When we try to be stronger than men or occupy leadership roles that aren’t meant for us we are trying to be men. That’s the problem with feminism, they’re essentially trying to be men. And I'll just say it -- I don’t support ordaining women as pastors because it’s not necessary. If we are a hindrance to winning souls for Christ it’s not worth it.”

I felt my heart rate rise to new heights, Katherine squeezed in one final nugget. “I also don’t know why feminists need to say that they’re empowering people all the time. To me that means we are trying to take power that isn’t ours.”

“Kelly what are your thoughts?” Lily said.

“Ok… I said I wasn’t going to talk but… here we go. So first of all it seems like you haven’t really done research on what feminism actually is. The actual definition of feminism in the dictionary is gender equality. Secondly, there’s a TED talk The Danger of a Single Story [Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie] that talks about how clinging to one story and applying that perspective to all is harmful and creates stereotypes. We can’t use Eve--literally one person thousands and thousands of years ago and say that’s how all women are period. If you want to talk about Biblical perspectives and a woman’s place---the Bible has a range of women all in dynamic and powerful roles. From Esther to Vashti to Deborah to Rahab to Mary to Jael to Rebekah… women can exist in many functions of society. To me equality means that I 100% support my sister who is a stay at home mom while also 100% supporting my friend who wants to be a CEO. A woman’s place is wherever God calls her.”

I was shaking. After the class a few random women thanked me for speaking up.  

One thing is for certain -- There is a definite breakdown occurring between feminist thought, gender research and greater Christianity.

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